Stefano Guseli chats about his art and exhibitions
Hervey Bay artist Stefano Guseli has a lot to say about art. In this interview, he chats with Jocelyn Magazine about his unique approach to art-making, the role of intuition in his work, and how he strives for creative spontaneity in his pieces. If you’re curious about what drives an experimental artist like Stefano, be sure to check out this interview!
‘Art is a mirror for the viewer, not a soapbox for the artist’
“Once you have sent a thought, it will not return. Once captured, it will not be let go of. The moment of realisation, the moment of transference, is a shared moment—something to treasure, not to disdain.”
This idea about the transference of thoughts is the basis of Stefano Guseli’s rationale for his art exhibitions in Maryborough, Queensland, later this year and in 2023.
“Perhaps letting go is the most vital part of the puzzle,” the Hervey Bay High School design teacher said.
“Once a ball is thrown, the pitcher has no control over the reaction. It is suspended in mid-air, defying gravity, hurtling, diving, and closing the gap between the two,” he said.
“If it is caught, the moment is not over, but it has just begun.
“Elation or loss may result. Can the pitcher take back the throw? Can the hands of time be wound back? Which is more reasonable? To pitch again or to take back the impossible?”
Stefano uses the metaphor of a ball game to explain how he sees the relationship between his artwork and its viewers.
“I know a lot of artists work to express themselves, but I prefer to make art for the viewer to be immersed in it and to interpret it their way.
“I feel the art I make is more of a mirror for the viewer rather than a mirror for me, so I shy away from interpreting individual artworks for the viewer.
“Basically, I can write anything I want on the plaque next to it in a gallery, but it is the viewer who I want to interpret my work.”
While French artists Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp, and the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso have influenced Stefano’s method, what he paints comes from 20th-century art history and contemporary movements.
From Bendigo, Victoria, Stefano studied art and design at La Trobe and Griffith universities.
He moved to Queensland about 14 years ago to marry his wife, Kim Guseli; they now live in Hervey Bay with their two loveable Dachshunds Lucia and Dexter.
Stefano has his own backyard “man cave” where his thoughts and ideas come to life as visual art.
“I like to observe the way art has developed over the past 100 years, particularly with the visual experience and installations. They are two very different things.”
“With installations, I’m getting more heavily into the style of the Dadadists, an art group from the First World War. For example, I’ve got a few found objects, such as an old television set, that I’ve incorporated into my artwork.
“But I don’t reconstitute found objects to make them look like something visual for example spoons welded together to look like an animal.
“I class myself as an ‘experimental artist’ because I really don’t know where I’m going with it. All I know is I’m going somewhere with it!”
While most human figures in Stefano’s painting come from his imagination, some are based on real people.
“The ones based on real people are abstracted, so I don’t reveal who they are. It’s more about abstracting the narrative.”
Stefano’s preferred art medium is acrylic because it dries more quickly and he can work faster, but he also loves oils.
“I love the richer, more vibrant textural qualities of oils, but it has drawbacks.
“One of my oils was so thick it took two months to dry!
“I submitted it to a competition, but the judge disqualified it; not because it was wet, but because it was still too soft in spots.”
Stefano mixes his own colours but sometimes they come straight out of the tubes.
“My artworks are usually pretty bright! I find bright colours, not diluted with black, grey and white, can be very positive.”
As an experimental artist, Stefano looks at the visual aesthetic, the installation, and the conceptual sides of art, pushing those elements together, apart, or moving them around, which is unusual.
“A lot of early experimental artists ended up spearheading methods for future ideas in the arts,” he said.
“If I got onto the bandwagon of a painting to a certain theme, I could see a trajectory in a direction where I could attract a certain type of clientele or a certain type of viewer and I’d keep making that sort of art.
“Some masters did that. They made the artwork that people liked, and that was in demand, so they were cutting edge in the eyes of many collectors.
“Experimental art is not theme-based repetition, at least it should not be in my view.”
Stefano said he also has a passion for book illustrations, which he has done several times in recent years.
“Illustrating is a finished product I can give to the client,” he said.
“It’s a reciprocal arrangement too, making the author happy, the publisher happy, the reader happy, and me happy!”
Stefano has only recently begun entering art competitions, so it’s a case of “watch this space”.
“I’m hoping to submit to the Archibald competition,” he said.
“Many of the artists who are successful are known in the painting community, but being an experimental artist it’s not my niche,” he said.
“So, we’ll see how I go over the next few years.
“You do your best work, submit it, see how the judges go with it and then see how the public goes with it.
“Entering competitions is often just an exercise in seeing what reaction you get from viewers and what comments they make.
“That’s really why I’m entering.”
Why create art?
“The choice to create art is about being true to the viewer by making it as an artistic mirror which reflects their interpretation,” Stefano said.
“Why am I making this piece? Am I making it because I do really want to, or am I solely interested in profit?
“Some of the most successful artists, mainly American and British artists, who sell their work for millions of dollars have been accused of being peddlers, but I don’t think they are.
“I think they’re just extremely successful financially. Money should not be the primary purpose in art making.
“Any artists, even very poor artists, can make art and sell works for money.
“The point is art should be a connection. If money comes in small or large amounts, that is not the primary purpose.”
Where you can see Stefano’s art
If you’re interested in seeing more of Stefano’s work, check out his website at https://www.stefanoguseli.net/
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